Archive | February, 2013

Loaded Baked Potato & Broccoli Soup

24 Feb

When you are coughing and sneezing and have a runny nose, sometimes all you need is hot water with lemon and honey and a big bowl of soup. That is me this weekend.

This is a baked potato, with all the toppings, in a bowl of soup. This was a total boyfriend request. This is the crazy part. The boyfriend requested for dinner something with potatoes and broccoli. I figured he meant something like a hunk of meat, some roasted potatoes, and steamed broccoli. Nope. He said “can it be like a soup? Whaaaa? Now I have seen lots of recipes for baked potato soup and I have made my own broccoli-cheddar soup, so we decided that combining them might create a great final product — it did.

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Soup Ingredients:
– Russet potatoes, diced (1) — peel & save the peelings!
– Half an onion, chopped
– Broccoli (1)
– Butter (a lot)
– Chicken broth (4 cups)
– Sour cream (1/4 cup, give or take)
– Heavy cream (1/2 cup, give or take)

Toppings:
– Bacon
– Tomatoes, chopped
– Green onion
– Cheddar cheese
– Crispy potato skins (you’ll see)

Directions:
1. In a large pan or dutch oven, heat your oil of choice and some butter and add onions. Once they are cooked a little, add the potatoes. Salt and pepper and continue to cook.

2. Add the chicken broth. Once the chicken broth is simmering and the potatoes have cooked a bit more, you can use a potato masher and mash the potatoes so it creates a thicker consistency.

3. Add the broccoli. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then using an immersion blender, blend your ingredients to your desired consistency. I left some clumps of potato and chunks of broccoli because I like them – blend more if you want a smoother soup.

4. Add the heavy cream and sour cream. When I have cooked with heavy cream before, it sometimes freaks out and curdles on me. Other times I pour it directly in, and no big deal. I am not experienced enough to know why this occurs. I do know that sometimes I’ll pour my heavy cream and sour cream into a bowl and pour a little of the hot soup into it to raise the temperature — then add it all back into your soup pot.

5. Season and taste (garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes) to your preference and continue to let it simmer.

6. While your soup is simmering, prepare your toppings.

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– Dice some tomatoes
– Shred cheddar cheese (you could even toss a handful or two into your soup when you add the sour cream and heavy cream if you like)
– Chop green onions
– Cook your bacon! I like mine crispy. Fry it up and leave the bacon fat in the pan for your potato skins!
– Once the bacon is done, toss in the peel shreddings from your potato and fry them up. Sprinkle some salt as you cook. It’s almost like a french fry, but thinner and crispier and is the perfect topping to your loaded baked potato soup!

7. Serve up your soup with the garnishings of your choice and enjoy!

Pure comfort food.

The Boyfriend Rates It:5
What else would I rate this? It is sheer guy indulgence, in a bowl. The potato base was smooth, creamy and cheesy. The topping are what pushed this dish over the top. The crispy bacon, golden potato skins cooked in bacon fat (MMMMMMMM!!) and the chopped tomato and green onions gave it a that freshness and bite that I always appreciate. The broccoli added the only bit of a healthy factor, but this isn’t a dish you eat for that. It’s one you eat on a cold winter day to make you feel oh soo good.

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Kale and Tofu Soba Noodles

20 Feb

Ooooooh goodness. This is a bowl of healthy yumminess. I like eating it almost as much as I like to look at it because it’s another one of those meals that just beams good for you. I can also take zero credit for this recipe because I found it here. I do nothing different except add extra amounts of veggies. Oh, and one time I topped it with sliced avocado. That was a good choice, and probably one I’ll repeat.

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Ignore that white piece of furikake dead in the center. I don’t know what happened, but this is the only pic I took, so love it.

Ingredient List:
– 1 bunch kale, torn and blanched
– 3 small carrots, finely grated
– 1 avocado, thinly sliced
– Tofu, cubed
– Soba noodles
– Green/spring onion
– Sesame oil
– Shoyu
– Dashi
– Rice vinegar
– Honey

Directions:
1. Cook your soba noodles according to the package instructions. Once it is done cooking, remove from the boiling water and rinse with cold water. This helps your soba noodles to not stick together. Trust me, I made that mistake once and it was a mushy mess that I did not enjoy.

2. The tofu. If possible, a few hours before you are going to cook your tofu, take it out of the packaging, drain it, put paper towels on the top and bottom of it, cover it, and let it drain. This helps take the moisture out and will allow your tofu to crisp up better when cooking.

Anyway, cube the tofu. Then in a pan with the oil of your choice, fry the tofu. While it is cooking, I like to season with shoyu, dashi, and a dash of sesame oil.

3. Tear your kale into bite-sized pieces and then quickly blanch it. Grate the carrots. Chop the green onion.

4. In a small bowl, combine the shoyu, sesmae oil, rice vinegar, honey, and green onion. Go heavier on the shoyu and sesame oil and lighter on the rice vinegar and honey — but taste it until it is delicious.

5. Now, in a large bowl, mix your veggies, noodles, and dressing all together. Serve up in individual bowls and top with furikake. Eat healthy and feel healthy!

The Boyfriend Rates It:4.5

I love this dish because it is good for you and it taste great. As I’ve stated before, I did not grow up eating Asian flavors, but I have always loved them. The shoyu and sesame flavors are the ones that I imagined all Asian food to taste like and I love them till this day. The kale along with the noodles really make this dish stick to your ribs, in a healthy way of course. And the carrots and green onion give it that crunch and bite that I always appreciate.

Chorizo Tortas

18 Feb

By now, I think my love for chorizo has been expressed. Pork and soy chorizo are a mainstay in my fridge. Friday mornings (the day I am allowed to eat carbs), I tend to make chorizo con huevo for breakfast. But, the other weekend, the boyfriend and I were at the Mexican market and noticed some delicious bread. Decision made. For breakfast, we would have chorizo tortas. The concept is basically the same, its just a matter of a different carb holding all the deliciousness together for you.

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Ingredients:
– Good torta bread (you’ll need to go a local Mexican grocery store for this)
– Butter
– Mayo

Chorizo con huevo
– Soy or pork chorizo
– 3 eggs, whisked
– Half an onion
– 2-3 garlic cloves, minced

Pickled jalapenos:
– 2 jalapenos, sliced
– Slices of onion
– Apple cider vinegar
– Juice of 1 large lime
– Salt

Toppings:
– Cilantro
– Cheese (preferably cotija)
– Avocado, sliced

Extra toppings:
– Salsa
– Tapatio

Directions:
1. In a large skillet, cook the onion and garlic in the oil of your choice. Add your chorizo and cook until crispy. If using pork chorizo, you will not need much oil to cook the onion and garlic because the pork will add a lot of fat to the pan. You might even need to wipe the pan slightly before adding the eggs to rid of excess oil. If using soy chorizo, the texture won’t get as crispy so just be mindful – still delicoius! Once the chorizo is crispy, add in the whisked eggs and cook until fully incorporated.

2. While cooking the chorizo, thinly slice up some onion and one or two jalapenos. In a small bowl, combine the sliced onion and jalapenos with apple cider vinegar, the juice of 1-2 limes, and some salt. You basically want the juices to cover the onion and jalapeno. Let these soak until you are ready to assemble your torta — quick pickled onions and jalapenos add a great little zing and heat to this breakfast sandwich.

3. Prepare your other toppings – sliced avocado, cilantro, cheese, and salsa.

4. In another pan, add an embarrassing amount of butter and toast the torta bread.

5. Now – time to assemble! I am not a huge mayo fan, but the boyfriend swears up and down that a smear of mayo is required on the torta bread. I add a baby amount and a good healthy smear on his. Next, add your chorizo and toppings and serve up!

Depending on your bread, sometimes I tear out a little whole of bread from the bottom piece of the bread in order to allow more fillings. This helps this giant sandwich close so you can hold it and eat up!

Serve with a spicy michelada and enjoy!

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The Boyfriend Rates It:4.5

Mmm, mmm,mmm. Tortas are one of my favorite meals of all time. I don’t know many people that can resist the smokey spicy aroma of chorizo in the morning. Add to that crisp onions that have been marinated in vinegar and lemon juice, creamy avocado and some homemade salsa and your in for a treat. Buen provecho 🙂

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti

18 Feb

I am newly obsessed with spaghetti squash. I am not sure I will ever eat spaghetti with regular pasta noodles again. Roasting the squash can take some time, and I know sometimes people just microwave it for convenience. However, I roasted mine and it was delicious. And like a little kid, I was so excited to rake the squash with a fork and watch it become strings of pasta!

Also, on this new little health kick I am doing, I am experimenting without pastas, rice, and other starchy foods for four nights a week. I got inspired by one of my Paleo-eating friends but I am Japanese. I can’t give up shoyu and rice. And my boyfriend is Mexican – he needs rice and beans. So we are just making a few adjustments during the weekdays and then on the weekends allow ourselves to eat like normal people. I am only mentioning this so it makes sense why the heavy cream and Parmesan cheese are optional in this recipe but usually those things are pretty mandatory for me. Boyfriend and I just need to shed a few pounds before we start hitting the beach here soon!

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Ingredient List:
– Spaghetti squash
– Olive oil
– Salt and pepper

Spaghetti sauce:
– 3/4-1 lb. ground beef
– 2 cans tomato sauce
– 1 can tomato paste
– 2 large tomatoes, chopped
– 1 yellow onion, chopped
– A ridiculous amount of mushrooms, chopped
– 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
– 2 tbsps sun-dried tomatoes
– 1/3 cup heavy cream (optional if you’re doing Paleo)
– Salt and pepper
– Dried oregano, basil, and thyme
– Red pepper flakes
– Parmesan cheese (optional if you’re doing Paleo)

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350. Cut your spaghetti squash in half (you’ll need a tough knife, or a tough man, for this job). Remove the seeds and then dress the squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in your oven for 30-45 minutes until the flesh is easily raked into strings with a fork.

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2. Make your spaghetti sauce. To begin with, in a pan on medium-high heat, cook about 1/4 of the chopped onion and 1 minced garlic clove in your favorite cooking oil. Then, add your ground beef. I like to cook mine on pretty high heat so that the meat gets crispy on the outside. While it is cooking, I also like to add about 1 tbsp of sun dried tomato paste (you can use just regular tomato paste) to the meat. Once the meat is cooked, drain on a paper towels to get rid of some of the fats/oil. Set aside.

3. In a large pan, use your favorite cooking oil and cook the remaining onion and garlic. Add a dash of salt and pepper.

4. Next, add in your mushrooms. Cook until the liquid is gone.

5. Add in the tomatoes. Add salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried thyme, dried basil, and red pepper flakes. I like my spaghetti a little on the spicy side.

6. Mix in your tomato paste, tomato sauce, and the sun dried tomatoes. Stir everything together and adjust your seasonings, if needed. Now, here is the big thing – the longer this sits and simmers on your stove, the deeper the flavors will develop and the better it will taste. Let it simmer!

7. Once your squash is ready and your sauce has simmered for a good long minute, rake your squash out and serve in a pasta bowl. Add a generous portion of your spaghetti sauce and top with Parmesan cheese. Perfect!

The Boyfriend Rates It:4.0
While most of the flavor comes from the amazing spaghetti sauce, this is a great overall meal. And it is kinda fun to scape the squash after its roasted and watch it become “spaghetti.” Just make sure you don’t burn you hands. The texture of the “spaghetti” has a little more bite that your traditional pasta. It is a great alternative to regular pasta as it has less calories (28 versus 158 in traditional pasta) antioxidant rich, and is low carb (about 9g versus 31g).

Caprese Salad

12 Feb

The beauty of a caprese salad is the complete simplicity and utter deliciousness of it all. I love, love, love caprese salad. In the summer, there is a great local farmer who sells heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil and that makes me eat a caprese salad almost every day….I think sometimes the boyfriend gets tired of it, so then I just sneak tomatoes sprinkled with salt whenever I want a quick snack. Yet, there are cherry tomatoes galore in the grocery stores right now and they are tiny bites of tomato-y juiciness. This led to make this all-time favorite salad of mine…

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Ingredient List:
– Cherry tomatoes, whole or halved
– Mozzarella balls
– Basil, torn
– Balsamic vinegar
– Olive oil
– Salt and pepper
– Honey (depending on your mood)

Isn’t that just about the easiest ingredient list? Wat till you see the directions!

1. Mix together the cherry tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella balls into a large serving bowl.

2. In a small bowl, mix together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. If I am in a sweeter type of mood, sometimes I’ll add a squeeze of honey to the mixture to mix things up a bit.

3. Combine all ingredients. Serve and enjoy!

How simple is that? The basil is fresh, the tomatoes juicy as can be, and the mozzarella a perfect cream ball to bring it all together. Try to get each thing in a bite!

The Boyfriend Rates It:4
I love this salad. Especially when local organic heirloom tomatoes and basil are used. It is so refreshing on a hot summer day (or any day in SoCal). I’m thinking that a really good balsamic vinegar would kick this salad to the next level.